I popped into the Myrtle St. Kettlehouse the other day for a beer, and I was pleasantly surprised to see they had a Crystal Pilsner on tap. This single-hop Pils was perfect after walking out of my air-conditioned office into Southern Baptists Sanctuary heat of a Missoula summer afternoon.
Clean and crisp with some spice on the nose and palate from the Crystal hops, this beer has an unmistakable bubble gum or fruit characteristic that makes it not just a good thirst quencher but a really fun beer to sip in those nice lager glasses that Kettlehouse is now using.
The Crystal Pils would make for a great river beer or with a dinner of grilled chicken and salad or even seafood. Lot’s of fun stuff to do with this beer.
Across town, I found an interesting Red Rye Ale at Big Sky Brewing Company. If you’re not familiar with Rye-style beers, this one might come as a surprise. It’s not a big beer, per se, but it’s a bold beer. Rye has a certain spice or boldness to it that barley or wheat beers do not. I told my wife it’s like the difference between eating pastrami on wheat and eating pastrami the way it was meant to be eatin’, on rye. The base of that sandwich makes all the difference, and it’s the same with the beer.
Again, it’s not a heaviness, it’s a certain mouthfeel, maybe an astringency that really plays nicely with the hops and yeast characteristics on this beer. It lacks the biscuity quality of barley beers, but that rye backbone holds up a nice hops structure that’s as wide as it is tall.
The Red Rye Ale would make for a good porch sipper, and it’s spectacular with spicy barbecue, especially Asian rubs or Korean barbecue.
A reincarnation of last year’s Bohemian Rhapsody, Weekend at Bernie’s is a slightly hoppier version of that traditional Czech-style Pils, according to head brewer Matt Long, who said the biggest difference in this year’s version is the use of Weyermann Pilsner Malt as opposed to the Breiss IdaPils they used last year. Besides being a great movie, the tap handle has a dead guy on it, which makes it my second favorite Dead Guy tap handle of all time.
I walked into Big Sky Brewing Company the other day with the intention of trying some more of their delicious Saison, but I heard a bunch of people murmuring about the new Pilsner. More than one guy was gushing over the new light beer with a ton of flavor and good hops, so I had myself a sampler, and I was quickly engaged by the Noble presence of spice and earthiness typical of the Bohemian-style Pilsners. In this case, Long tells me they used all German Hallertau Tradition.
Very light with a nice grainy body, this beer seems at first to be your typical Pilsner, but it quickly reveals itself as a hoppier, more robust version of the European favorite. As always, this beer is fantastic with brats, smoked pork chops, grilled chicken and big salads with complex ingredients. The higher hop content makes it stand up a little more to lighter foods, but this is a very drinkable Pilsner. All the more since it’s as fresh as can be.
As with all specialty beers from Big Sky, you better get in and get yourself some soon, because it will be gone before you know it.
This beer gets points simply for the name. It’s one of the more creative beer names I’ve come across in recent memory. And after enjoying a few this weekend while doing yard work and playing softball, I’m convinced it’s one of those “little helpers” that helps anyone out, whether mama or not.
This canned Pilsner from Oscar Blues Brewing Company is a nice golden color when poured into a glass. It has ample hop characteristic for a Pilsner, though the site says it’s 35 IBUs. The pale malt and lack off adjuncts certainly makes Pils much richer than a typical American-style Pilsner. I found the beer to be highly drinkable and enjoyable with typical spicy characteristics from the Czezh Saaz hops and a more bready body than I was used to.
The 5.3 percent ABV is fairly low, but drinking one of these full-bodied beers offers much more than your standard low-calorie American-style lager or Pilsner. The crafty name and the fact that it comes in cans drew plenty of attention at the softball fields, an area still dominated by blue and silver cans that say frost-brewed, whatever that means.
The slogan, “take two and call us in the morning,” is a good one for this beer.
The heavier body and breadiness gives way to a dry Pilsner-esque finish. There is a slight hint of citrus on the hops with some white pepper on the palate.
You’ll find a few of these in my fishing bag this summer.
Very few things evoke summer goodness like that old rope swing down by the favorite swimming hole. Hot days are not killed easily, but flying through the air and making a huge cannonball as the last jumper tries to clear the area is about as refreshing as it can get. And summer thirsts are not always quenched easily, especially in a world of big craft beers. Redhook Brewing Company’s Rope Swing Summer Pilsner is definitely the exception, and I can’t think of a more aptly named beer for summer.
It pours up exceedingly golden and gorgeous in the glass. Sunlight is almost required when enjoying one of these beers for the simple fact that watching the light stream through this beautiful lager is part of the total enjoyment of it.
Rope Swing is, as good lagers should be, fresh and crisp, with a lot of grainy taste rather than the hollow tasting adjuncts used by most of the American light beer makers. It’s a difference you’ll notice right away when drinking a quality light beer. The Noble hops are prominent and earthy and spicy on the finish, with some herbal characteristics coming from the yeast, which I’m told is an authentic Czech strain.
At 5.3 percent ABV, it packs a little heat, but the hop profile tends to keep this beer very balanced and enjoyable. One thing to remember is that this is not a light or golden ale, it’s a full-blown Pilsner-style beer that carries those characteristics. It’s not going to have that sticky sweetness prominent in a lot of lagers. The notes of earthiness and spices are dominant and characteristic of this style.
While I wish this one was available in cans for some quality river time, having a six-pack in the fridge for right after you’ve mowed the lawn or as you’re watering the lawn in the late evening is a wonderful thing.
Rope Swing is available in six-pack bottles and on draught through July.
Not in the sense that they’re all mass-marketing beer that appeals to as wide a cross section of society as possible, but news out of BeerNews.org says Avery Brewing Company of Boulder, CO., will be canning something called Joe’s Premium American Pilsner for release later this summer. Based on pre-prohibition recipes for the early Bohemian-style Pilsners, Joe’s is considered a sessionable lite beer with ample hops and flavor.
With a stylish label and the potential for more flavor and fewer, if any, adjuncts, the return of craft-brewed American Pilsners is actually a fairly exciting idea. Or at least this blogger thinks so.
Breweries like Big Sky, Kettlehouse and Bayern already produce great Pilsners as year-rounders or seasonals, but most are released for local consumption rather than broad distribution.
Avery, located right in the lion’s den of big beer production, is at least sending a message to the big breweries about the changing tastes of the American beer drinker. And I have to give that props.
It’s high time I write about this refreshing craft Pilsner from Kettlehouse Brewing Company.
Al Pils has been one of my favorite people since I moved to Missoula almost three years ago. He’s often voted the top bar tender in Missoula, but it’s not just Al’s white-board witticism and growler-cleaning abilities that polish his image, it’s the way he immerses himself into the community with such aplomb. I can’t walk in to any establishment in Missoula without noticing when Mr. Pils is holding court. Whether quietly planning the Double Haul Fundraiser to support the Poverello Center or pouring a root beer for one of the many children who know him by name even more than their parents do, Al Pils is an institution in Missoula.
But, I know he’d say this is all about the beer, and this is a beer blog, so start writing about the beer. Okay, fine Al, but I and many others appreciate your dedication to this community, and we just want you to know that.
Now, on to the beer.
I enjoyed a pint of Al’s Bohemian Pilsner last night as the sun came out on what had been a cold and blustery May-the-4th-be-with-you. As the lowering sun came streaming in through the Southside windows, it caught the Pilsner glass just right and made this golden lager look like a million bucks.
Having grown up in Europe, I’ve only ever been able to really enjoy Pilsners at their source. The beers in and around Czech are phenomenal and provide a delightful respite from a world of multi-flavored ales. The clean, crisp lines of a Pilsner brewed to perfection are hard to beat. It’s the Formula One of beers for sure.
Stateside I don’t drink that much Pilsner. I’ll get a can of the great Urquel occasionally, but more often than not, I opt for a clean pale ale instead. But on this Tuesday evening, I felt like sitting down to a tall glass of Pilsner that happens to be named after one of my favorite Missoula people.
And Bohemian it is. With good hop bite and more mouthfeel than a German lager, Al Pils (ner) is a fantastically drinkable beer for after work or any time of day. At 5 percent ABV, it’s a decent session beer, though it holds a little more weight than other lagers might, especially the light American lagers. But one thing it really reminded me of is the fact that Pilsners are unbeatable when they’re brewed locally and they’re really fresh. You can almost taste the fresh grains and hops as separate entities, something that’s almost impossible with an import or a pasteurized American lager.
Check out Kettlehouse’s Southside brewery for Al Pils (ner) and several other seasonals currently on tap.